With the exception of a few societies in European countries such as Iceland, there’s this notion in societies around the world that people have to go through an elaborate game of courtship before they can be together more intimately. As I have previously discussed in my article series on Understanding Women, this isn’t something that’s natural; it was enforced on humankind thousands of years ago as part of a set of measures that would promote sexual suppression and repression in society. 
When it comes to courtship — and for the purposes of this post I’ll treat dating as a form of courtship – people generally expect men to pursue women. There are elaborate procedures established in society that men need to follow in order to impress and convince women to allow men to get closer and intimate with them. And women are being brainwashed from early childhood that they must make it especially difficult for a man to win them over; the more difficult they make it for men, the less “easy” or “slutty” they are perceived by society; the harder a man tries, the more “romantic” it is. But research has shown that this is all part of “traditional gender-stereotyped, and culturally bound, social scripts.” In other words, it’s based on stupid and made-up rules that exist in society and has absolutely nothing to do with the natural behavior of men and women. And as I mentioned previously, Iceland is a good example of a society where these stupid dating rules don’t exist and where it’s completely normal for women to pursue men, and for men and women to get intimate with each other on the first meeting. 
Very often there are certain developments in the world that just make me blankly stare in front of me and go “Wow…” while my mind desperately tries to cope with the astronomical amounts of stupidity it’s suddenly being confronted with.
Such was the experience I had when I first read about “the right to be forgotten” — a concept that’s based on the European Data Protection Directive meant to regulate the processing of personal data. Judges in the European Court of Justice used that directive to justify an individual’s request to remove publicly available — and lawfully obtained and published – personal information. Without a doubt those judges have got to be some of the most stupid people on this planet.
I seriously wonder if they asked themselves how such a ruling could realistically be implemented and what kind of dangerous and far reaching consequences this would have for civilization in the future. This ruling actually gives people the ability to start censoring history. How could anyone in their right mind think that this is a good idea? Obviously the only people who would want such a thing are those who want negative facts about themselves, or the crimes they’ve committed in the past, erased from history. And ironically those cases have only received even more exposure online precisely because of the request that they be forgotten. In the case of Mario Costeja González, I’m sure that everyone now knows that his house had been auctioned in 1998 to recover his social security debts, because of all the publicity it’s now getting:
The test case privacy ruling by the European Union’s court of justice against Google Spain was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Costeja González, after he failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.
Costeja González argued that the matter, in which his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him whenever his name was searched on Google.
Way to go, you fucking moron. Now the whole world knows about what you tried to hide, plus you’ve created a precedent for allowing the censorship of history. Thanks a lot.
Here are some more examples of how this stupid “right to be forgotten” concept is being abused:
When you Google someone from within the EU, you no longer see what the search giant thinks is the most important and relevant information about an individual. You see the most important information the target of your search is not trying to hide.
Stark evidence of this fact, the result of a European court ruling that individuals had the right to remove material about themselves from search engine results, arrived in the Guardian’s inbox this morning, in the form of an automated notification that six Guardian articles have been scrubbed from search results.
The first six articles down the memory hole – there will likely be many more as the rich and powerful look to scrub up their online images, doubtless with the help of a new wave of “reputation management” firms – are a strange bunch.
Three of the articles, dating from 2010, relate to a now-retired Scottish Premier League referee, Dougie McDonald, who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match, the backlash to which prompted his resignation.
Anyone entering the fairly obvious search term “Dougie McDonald Guardian” into google.com – the US version of Google – will see three Guardian articles about the incident as their first results.
Type the exact same phrase into Google.co.uk, however, and the articles have vanished entirely. McDonald’s record is swept clean.
It’s like Index on Censorship mentioned:
The court’s ruling means that, under certain circumstances, information can be removed from search engine results even if it is true and factual and without the original source material being altered. It allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like with no legal oversight. This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books. Although the ruling is intended for private individuals it opens the door to anyone who wants to whitewash their personal history.
By placing the onus on search engines to prevent dissemination of information, the Court has said that an individual’s desires outweigh society’s interest in the complete facts around incidents.
The ruling goes against the finding last year of the EU advocate general who said there was no “right to be forgotten”.
The Court’s decision is a retrograde move that misunderstands the role and responsibility of search engines and the wider internet. It should send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free expression and freedom of information.
Today it’s search engines and websites that are impacted by this stupid “right to be forgotten” ruling, but what will happen in the future when technology becomes so advanced that it becomes possible to erase certain information directly from people’s own memories? Would such a law still be enforced? What if the future that Dr. Ray Kurzweil envisions, where an individual can choose to store some of his memory in the cloud, becomes reality? Would the company behind the cloud storage service be marked as a “data controller” under the European Data Protection Directive, and be forced to delete people’s memories?
Before approving such a boneheaded “right to be forgotten” concept, did the people responsible think about everyone’s right to remember? I think everyone’s personal and collective right to remember information that became publicly available, certainly stands above any individual’s right to be forgotten. A single individual’s personal right to be forgotten can never outweigh our collective personal rights to remember!! And our right to remember doesn’t only involve the biological capabilities of our bodies, but also any technology that can be used to assist and augment our capabilities to remember, including any external databases and other files that help us to remember things. These can be personally maintained by an individual or by a third party for groups of individuals. And remembering isn’t just limited to the information an individual previously had in his own consciousness, but also includes information in our collective human consciousness that’s just now starting to come online — the Global Brain.
Without this right to remember humankind would never have gotten where it is today, and indeed, it’s precisely because of this right and capability to remember, and especially the fact that we can now enhance our capabilities to quickly and efficiently remember using technology (such as Google’s search engine, Wikipedia etc. — the Global Brain in short), that we’ve gotten into a position now where we can start to solve many of the problems we’ve been struggling with for thousands of years. The “right to be forgotten” concept not only has the potential to stiffen the progress we’ve been making, but also to do serious damage to the progress we’ve already made.
Fortunately it does seem like there are enough intelligent people still around who see the absurdity of the “right to be forgotten”. The House of Lords EU Home Affairs, Health and Education Sub-Committee of the UK parliament recently had the following to say about this:
“The expression, ‘right to be forgotten’ is misleading. Information can be made more difficult to access, but it does not just disappear. Anyone anywhere in the world now has information at the touch of a button, and that includes detailed personal information about people in all countries of the globe. Neither the 1995 Directive, nor the CJEU’s interpretation of it, reflects the incredible advance in technology that we see today.
We believe that the judgment of the Court is unworkable. It does not take into account the effect the ruling will have on smaller search engines which, unlike Google, are unlikely to have the resources to process the thousands of removal requests they are likely to receive.
It is also wrong in principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria. We heard from witnesses how uncomfortable they are with the idea of a commercial company sitting in judgment on issues like that.
There are compelling arguments that, in the new Regulation, search engines should not be classed as data controllers. We do not believe that individuals should be able to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said.
It is incredibility difficult for legislation to keep up or ‘future proof’ the unforeseen leaps that technology is bound to make. We do, however, need to ensure that the next Regulation does not attempt to give individuals rights which are unenforceable.”
Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, has also spoken out against this absurd ruling by the European Court of Justice:
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales today warned the ruling was tantamount to “censoring history” and “the start of a “very dangerous path to go down”.
“I would say the biggest problem we have is that the law seems to indicate Google needs to censor links to information that is clearly public – links to articles in legally published, truthful news stories.
“That is a very dangerous path to go down, and if we want to go down a path where we are going to be censoring history, there is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions.”
It’s also important to note that Google themselves aren’t happy with the ruling:
Google said: “This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general. We are very surprised that it differs so dramatically from the advocate general’s opinion and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyse the implications.”
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Like Wales said, this is a very dangerous path to go down, and I think that the ruling by the European Court of Justice must be reversed as soon as possible.
I never want to get rich. In fact, I think that if you’re rich you should be ashamed of yourself. And not only should you be ashamed of yourself, but you should also be very worried about the kind of person you’ve likely become.
When I mention to people that I never want to get rich, I always get a reaction of surprise from them, followed by the question of why not. It seems that in the world we live in today, most people are constantly looking for ways to earn more money and get richer, even if they already have enough to cover their basic needs and live a decent life. And this is one of the consequences of the societies we have around the world right now, where people are constantly encouraged to compete with one another. In these societies a person’s success in life is measured by how wealthy he is, instead of how valuable he is to the people around him and to society in general.
For example, an aunt of mine mentioned to an acquaintance a few years ago that I’m a very good software engineer. And her acquaintance responded by saying that in that case I should have already been owning a car. I didn’t own a car back then, and I still don’t. However, I was making enough money to buy myself a car if I wanted to, but it just wasn’t something that I felt I really needed to own. I like to live as minimally and simple as possible, and so far it’s always been more convenient and cost efficient for me to take a taxi, or in very rare instances to rent a car. But this example just goes to show you how people measure success these days. If you don’t show your wealth by spending lots of money, or by showing on social media channels how extraordinary your life is and where you’re traveling to all the time, or by wearing a lot of expensive clothes (preferably only once in public), or by owning a very big and expensive house that could be home to 2-4 families, or by owning a lot of expensive items that you rarely need, then you’re probably not successful.
Billionaire Nick Hanauer published an article recently on Politico warning his fellow “filthy rich Americans” that “the pitchforks are coming.” In his article, Hanauer discussed the inequality in America that’s getting worse every day:
At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.
But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.
And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
While I am certainly pleasantly surprised by Hanauer’s apparent courage to openly disagree with his fellow billionaires — who “think he’s bonkers” – on the problem of inequality, his motivations for wanting to change the way things are going right now could have been much better. As Hanauer himself states, “the problem isn’t inequality” but it’s that “it is at historically high levels.” So Hanauer doesn’t have a problem with inequality per se; it’s just that it’s getting a little too extreme now. And these high levels of inequality threaten his empire and his (way of) life. So Hanauer’s motivation is fear. He fears the pitchforks that are coming, and rightfully so.
It looks like we’re finally getting a feature in Adobe Photoshop we’ve long been waiting for: Focus Selection. A while back I had written a tutorial on focus peaking in Adobe Photoshop including some actions that are available for download (for free) that automate the process. They were far from perfect, but did a good job on most images. And I wondered:
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a selection feature in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom where we could easily select only the areas of an image that are in focus? The way this would work is exactly like the “Color Range” selection process in Photoshop, but only instead of a range of colors, it would select a range of focus. It would start by selecting the areas that are sharply in focus, and you could then increase the range/radius to include more of the picture in your selection extending more to the out of focus areas.
I had sent an email to Adobe about this in 2012, and it looks like we’re finally going to have it in the next version of Photoshop. Check out the preview video below.
It won’t surprise me if we also get this in a future version of Lightroom in the form of a focus masking option for the adjustment brushes. That will be awesome.
When I decided to start a satirical blog featuring a fake version of Canon USA’s Chuck Westfall back in September 2008, I never expected that it would have gotten the exposure it eventually did. But a few months later, Canon Inc.’s lawyers tried to shut down the blog and get behind the identity of the author. Then all of a sudden a small blog that hardly anyone knew existed at that time became something much bigger.
It’s almost 6 years ago now since I started the blog on September 13th, 2008 and it’s time for me to move on to other things that I want to concentrate on. I think that it’s best to officially close the blog and move on instead of just letting it sit there without updates. I decided to also come out and reveal who Fake Chuck really is and answer some questions that I know many people will have about the blog so that there can be no confusion or misunderstandings in the future. In case you have additional questions that haven’t been answered here, feel free to post them in the comments below and I’ll answer them for you.
Something that comes up often in discussions is the question of whether human beings are naturally evil creatures that need to be held in check with laws, either from the state and/or from a god, or whether they are intrinsically good. Those who believe that humans are intrinsically bad, claim that without any laws that tell people how to live and behave, and that threaten them with punishment if they don’t follow those laws, humans would be out of control and we’d be living in chaos. They point at their own negative experiences with people, and at examples of people in societies around the world who are jealous, deceptive, manipulative, violent and corrupt. And it’s true that when we look at the majority of people in societies around the world today, it really seems like humans have a lot of bad qualities and can’t be trusted. But is this naturally the case? And do we really need the state or a god to tell us how to behave correctly and to tell us how to live our lives?
Richard Knight, who is the Managing Director at UK based river transport company JP Knight, just sent in his client testimonial for the work I recently did for his company. It’s one of the longest testimonials I ever received from a client, and you can read it below.
You would imagine that interpreting a client’s brief must be one of the toughest challenges that a professional photographer can face: and this brief was indeed tough. I wanted to show what an extraordinary environment we work in yet also the demands placed on our officers and crews. Having commissioned shoots this specific before, and having not got the results, I knew that being precise as to what was expected would be critical, but would ultimately still be an act of faith!
Well, Karel handsomely repaid that faith and more…
In his blog, Karel describes how he went about the two shoots in disarming and electric detail so I won’t go into that in this post because what really must be said and noted is the literally jaw-dropping images Karel captured.
Some history first though; JP Knight is after all 122 years old!
From the 1930s to the 1950s, JP Knight commissioned the celebrated photographer Beken of Cowes. His monochrome images have become some of the most iconic maritime images ever captured and the studies he made of our tugs from that era to this day defy description. They capture much more than the subject, more than just the light, they convey an emotion and a serious understanding of the subject’s environment. In my view such maritime sensitivity is only now matched in each and every one of those respects by Karel’s unbelievable skill.
But what is so remarkable in Karel’s work?
First, the lengths he goes to get ‘the shot’. We discussed plane v ‘copter, but Karel was insistent that paying that (little!) extra for the helicopter was the only way to capture with total clarity the images I sought. Act of faith number one. In fact the act of faith was his, as his vivid description of the waterline shot proves.
Second, Karel’s determination regardless of circumstance. The ‘industrial shoot’ really provided challenges. Torrential rain, awkward timings, working amongst a risk-strewn situation, coping with equipment failure: quite a list! Another act of faith – should we cancel? But no, Karel said he could do it despite the worst conditions. He was right.
Third, he captured the heroic nature of our crews, the focus and the will to deliver. Karel showed empathy with the men and like a great painter melded the circumstances to his advantage to create mood and atmosphere.
Karel is also a consummate professional in his business-like attitude. No grey areas, all costs are very clearly set out and agreed beforehand: no surprises, no extras.
Ultimately, Karel is that most elemental of photographers, a story-teller. He is a communicator – and isn’t that what a picture ultimately is? A story.
Richard Knight, Managing Director, JP Knight
Like I mention elsewhere on my website, more important to me than the financial compensation for the work I do for my clients, is the fact that I want my work to be of value and to benefit my clients and contribute to their success. And it makes me feel really good to know that JP Knight is satisfied and values my work so much.
If you’d like to read more about the work I did for JP Knight, check out my posts Aerial Photography for JP Knight and Industrial Photography for JP Knight. You can also read previous client testimonials by visiting my Testimonials page.
A month after doing the aerial photography assignment for JP Knight, it was time to do the second part of the project which involved industrial photography. The plan was to follow the crew under normal working conditions and document their activities in a photojournalistic style. So there would be no planned shots, no posing or directing and no extra lighting and other fancy equipment. We just wanted to show the crew doing their job as realistic as possible.
While planning I already knew that the most challenging aspect of this assignment would be to stay out of the crew’s way while doing my work and not distract them. And this proved to be true on the day of the assignment. In certain locations it wasn’t always easy not to stand in the way of the crew and get good shots. But as it turned out, this would be the least of my concerns. A bigger issue on that day was the bad weather.
Not that I ever doubted myself, but I am now more confident than ever that my theories about women’s irrational behavior are spot on, and that I really solved the problem of why women are difficult to understand. When I wrote the first part of my Understanding Women series back in 2011, I knew I had solved an important puzzle. But I didn’t leave it at that; I’m always challenging my own assumptions and theories, constantly checking to see if they still hold up as I continue my personal research. And this led to me eventually finding out about Dr. Wilhelm Reich in December 2013.
I was watching a documentary where Reich was briefly quoted, and that quote was so interesting that I had to immediately pause the documentary and google Wilhelm Reich. Prior to that I had never heard of Reich, and to this day I still can’t believe it took this long for me to find out about him. I do understand now why this happened; there was a lot of controversy surrounding Reich, and his research had been censored for a long time. And when you read some of his books, you’ll quickly understand why.
I was completely blown away by what I found while I researched Reich. He was a very brilliant man; we’re talking Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton kind of brilliant. He even had “free energy” devices running based on a similar principle as Tesla’s. Reich already knew almost everything I have written about in my Understanding Women series over 80 years ago! For example, take the following quote from Reich’s book The Function of the Orgasm:
“Of the hundreds of cases which I observed and treated in the course of several years of extensive and intensive work, there was not a single woman who did not have a vaginal orgastic disturbance. […] The disturbance of the ability to experience genital gratification, to experience, that is, the most natural of what is natural, proved to be a symptom which was always present in women and seldom absent in men.
The severity of every form of psychic illness is directly related to the severity of the genital disturbance.” — Wilhelm Reich
This is basically the same conclusion I came to in the first part of my Understanding Women series – that women are difficult to understand because they suffer from psychological issues caused by the repression of their sexuality.
Not only that, but Reich was even able to uncover the primary purpose of all the sexual manipulation:
“Sexual suppression supports the power of the Church, which has sunk very deep roots into the exploited masses by means of sexual anxiety and guilt. It engenders timidity towards authority and binds children to their parents. This results in adult subservience to state authority and to capitalistic exploitation. It paralyzes the intellectual critical powers of the oppressed masses because it consumes the greater part of biological energy. Finally, it paralyzes the resolute development of creative forces and renders impossible the achievement of all aspirations for human freedom. In this way the prevailing economic system (in which single individuals can easily rule entire masses) becomes rooted in the psychic structures of the oppressed themselves.” — Wilhelm Reich
I came to similar conclusions myself in part 2 and 3 of my Understanding Women series. My research does go further than Reich’s with regards to the cause and purpose of sexual repression in societies around the world, but this is because today I have a lot more information available to me compared to Reich back then. There’s been a lot of research that came after Reich, and in formulating my own theories I of course benefitted from that.
I highly recommend reading Reich’s books The Sexual Revolution and The Function of the Orgasm. Every self-respecting psychologist and psychoanalyst should read those books. It’s astounding how much Reich was able to work out that long ago. While reading his books, I’ve had so many “holy shit” moments that I’ve lost count. Very often it was as if I were reading my own thoughts while reading his books. Needless to say, there’s not a shadow of a doubt anymore in my mind regarding the validity of my own theories as they are confirmed by Reich’s research.
It’s also interesting that many of Reich’s breakthroughs were due to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s work on human sexuality. Reich expanded on Freud’s theories and went where even Freud was too afraid to go. It seems like Freud eventually limited himself and his research because he wanted to remain accepted by society and didn’t want to get too controversial. Reich didn’t care about that; he fearlessly went wherever his research took him.
Similar to Reich, my own theories about women and sexuality are also based on the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud, and I often mention that in my Understanding Women article series. If you’ve never read my Understanding Women series, now is a good time to start doing that. And also don’t forget to read Reich’s book The Function of the Orgasm; it will change your life.